Plant ID questions have been discussed, accepted and rejected on both http://biology.stackexchange.com and http://gardening.stackexchange.com.

And here someone suggested to make an SE proposal - but seems there may have been something of the sort already here: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/30295/botany

My question is, is a topic like this a good fit for the SE network in general? There is already a thriving (70,000+ member) facebook group devoted to the topic. On one hand it would be nearly impossible to identify dupes, but on the other it's something that comes up for many many people and as a network that specializes in Q&A I'd love to a board dedicated to this.

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    Plant ID questions are off-topic at Gardening? Can you please link to the discussion that established this? I find that surprising considering the existence of the "identification" tag and this related Meta post, but I am not a member of that community so there may be something I'm missing. – user306255 Aug 15 '16 at 3:12
  • @sumelic - I didn't say they are off topic at Gardening. But that said, please note a few things: (1) here it is stated: "I agree they aren't a good fit for our site, but they are a worse fit for gardening.SE". (2) here again we can see a discussion where there is no definitive answer about whether they are ok or not - and at least some amount of uncertainty. – billynoah Aug 15 '16 at 18:23
  • The prevailing attitude as best I can tell seems to be that if it involves gardening (e.g. weed identification) somehow it's ok. But a question like "hey I was just taking a walk in the woods and came across this, does anyone know what it is?" might be flagged as off-topic – billynoah Aug 15 '16 at 18:24
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    I see... that's possible, but there are various questions about wildflowers (1,2,3) that don't seem to have been closed. The Gardening Meta post you linked to that you say shows uncertainty is older (Jun 8 2011) than the one I linked to (Jun 25 2011); I think the more recent post makes it clear that at least some kinds of plant ID questions are on-topic. – user306255 Aug 15 '16 at 18:33
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    The first two linked questions seem to deal with flowers growing wild in a yard; obviously that's more relevant to gardening than flowers that are truly out in the wild, but presumably a flower that you might see in a walk in the woods could also grow wild in a garden. So I'm not sure how a strict division could be upheld between plants that are relevant to gardening and plants that are irrelevant to gardening. – user306255 Aug 15 '16 at 18:42

I think plant identification questions are a perfect fit for an SE site! They easily conform to the question/answer format, and I completely agree that there's a market for them.

The botany proposal you linked to has been deleted, and unfortunately I don't have enough understanding of the system to know why. You could always propose a site dedicated just to plant identification, no matter where or what the plant is, or its purpose. I'd support it, but I don't know if it would come to fruition.

In the meantime, if you have those questions, Gardening & Landscaping is definitely a place to consider posting them. I'm very active there and can confirm that many plant identification questions, even if they're not about a garden plant, are acceptable, and generally well-received. A significant number of users really enjoy answering identification questions in general, and they don't have to relate to gardening.

If you check out the flower or plant identification questions, you'll find that people frequently ask for more information. They may want more details and pictures, which might not always be possible if the plant was just found in the woods. In that case, identification can be more of a stab in the dark, but that doesn't mean they don't want the question.

I recently was involved in a meta discussion which was a bit different but led to the same conclusion. The moderator who answered it pointed me to some random identification questions that had nothing to do with gardening specifically. They are here, here, and here. Another example is this, which is just seeking an identification of a tree that was seen in a park someplace.

The Great Outdoors also welcomes some identification questions, and that might be a better fit for the types of things people see outdoors that are unrelated to gardening. I've asked some questions like that about trees and animals. Others have asked about mushrooms. They're also seeking a larger diversification of questions. Plant identification questions were not specifically on that list, but it would be worth asking on their meta or in their chat room.

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